Audio Roundup 2024:15

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by Joel Rich

Question. During a recent class, I heard a rabbi mention that he’s very against small talk, and therefore one should always have a question in their back pocket so that when somebody comes over to make small talk, they can say I have a question for you. I generally agree concerning the importance of time management and not wasting any of it. However, it’s my general impression (work and personal experience) that to be able to have real influence on others in many circumstances, they have to feel a relationship with you. I’m not sure this is maximized by always being on point. It seems to me that small talk actually can be an effective way of establishing and growing relationship, which will make people more likely to be influenced. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


The Chafetz Chaim in Seder Olam chapter 11 takes the Gmara in Chulin 105 concerning Shmuel and how often to inspect one’s property as a metaphor for how often to do a cheshbon hanefesh (self- introspection). He foreshadows Rabbi JB Soloveitchik’s loneliness in realizing that in the end, even though you have loving family, you are alone with HKBH. A lot of great mussar concerning how we spend our time, especially with the outside influences even from close family members. One point that really struck me was when he said, “and even if you do some good thing, did you really intend it for HKBHs honor or maybe only to glorify yourself? This applies even to torah or prayer.”I can’t help but think of all the blind spots we have as individuals and communities and how often we may confuse personal drivers with what HKBH wants of us. To me the best defense is to actually listen to what others have to say (Paging bet hillel always stating bet shamai first – as R’ M Rosensweig says – that wasn’t about winning the Bing Trophy but about hearing others and considering other viewpoints before coming to a final conclusion)
Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba


Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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